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There Are Two Things People Want More Than Sex and Money

I know the headline got your attention but it isn’t clickbait. According to Mary Kay Ash, founder of the Mary Kay cosmetics empire, people want recognition and praise more than sex and money. Whilst I’d love to see the evidence supporting the claim, I know the positive impact that genuine recognition and praise can have on building school culture.

According to author Bob Nelson PhD in “1501 Ways to Reward Employees“, staff want respect, they want to be trusted to do a good job, they want autonomy to decide how best to do it; they want to be asked their opinion, especially in areas that impact their work; they want support and most importantly they want to be appreciated when they do a good job. According to Nelson, these considerations are more important for today’s staff than they were in previous eras.

Respect and recognition can make a world of difference in getting the best efforts out of them, keeping them and helping you develop a reputation for treating employees in a way that helps attract talent to work for you and your school.

According to Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford Business School, 99.4 percent of staff expect to be recognised when they do good work, only 12 % strongly agree that they are consistently recognised in ways that are important to them and 34% disagree or strongly disagree.

The research says staff who do receive recognition are:-

  • 5 times more likely to feel valued,
  • 7 times more likely to stay and
  • 11 times more likely to feel completely committed to the school.
Whilst recognition can have a powerful impact, it is often seen as so simple that people assume they are doing it and doing it well. Pfeffer reports that in many organisations he found himself saying to leaders, “I know you CAN do recognition. My bigger concern is WILL you do so?”

Do your staff feel recognised and appreciated?

Recognition is most effective when it is in response to something significant that a staff member has done. It is much more than just being ‘nice’ to people. The best recognition is timely, specific and meaningful. However, to meet those criteria, leaders need to be present and paying attention. It is vital, even in these intensely crazy times, to spend some time with the people we lead to give us the opportunity to see and then recognise their work. For some leaders, giving recognition comes easily. If it doesn’t come easily to you, make a note in your calendar to spend time with the people you lead and make a point of looking for opportunities to give recognition.